Startup Year One: Fursure, the discount card that can help pet parents save a lot on veterinary care

Veterinary care is expensive, and like just about anything else right now, it’s not immune to inflation. The Average cost of emergency care For a pet it’s between $800 and $1,500, but 97% of pets In the US it is not insured.

As a friend recently described to me very succinctly, think of it this way: Pet insurance is what people’s health insurance was in the United States before the Affordable Care Act. Meaning, there is no pet insurance available for pets with pre-existing conditions. So any treatment for pets with pre-existing conditions is waste — and expensive.

Millennials are the largest segment of pet owners, and They are willing to spend double on their pets compared to previous generations, but due to these insurance rates, not enough pet owners are financially prepared for emergencies.

It was co-founded by Catherine Denning fur After facing an expensive (and unaffordable) vet bill and later losing her beloved cat. Since its launch in 2020, Fursure has partnered with more than 60,000 pet parents in all 50 states, supporting more than 1,800 checking accounts with the new one. ForeSure Card. Touted as the first rewards debit card made for pet parents, customers can earn five points for every dollar spent on a pet, which can be redeemed for any vet bill, essentially serving as a rainy day fund for pet emergencies. Customers can also earn exclusive discounts on products from pet retailers such as Bark Box, rubberyand a farm dog.

Dennig recently shared more with luck About what Fursure is doing and what it could mean for the future of our pets and the pet insurance industry.

The following interview has been lightly summarized and edited for clarity.

Can you share a little about your professional background prior to launching Fursure?

Before Fursure I was leading product teams on news feed and announcements at Facebook, where she helped create and launch Facebook Ads Credit for SMEs to try advertising, which became a sustainable growth lever for Facebook. She led the News Feed Integrity content quality team, a large cross-functional team that builds classifiers for problematic content such as clickbait, excitement, ad farms, and more. I learned a lot in my 3.5 years there and loved my wonderful co-workers, many of whom became my first forex investors, and I always knew I wanted to get back to building something I was passionate about over the next 10 years, so I left to start Fursure.

Before Facebook, I graduated in 2015 from Princeton University, where I started my first company, Nofomo. I’ve learned more than a few hard-earned lessons, which is to get my teammates to truly match the task and always iterate on products with customer feedback to ultimately solve people’s real problems.

What inspired the launch of Fursure?

It all started with my cat, Simba, who was my pride and joy. I name my loved ones (my parents, sister, and best friends) Simba, Wimba, and Wimpy as a term I like because of him. I grew up with pets, but Simba was the first one I was financially responsible for. It hit me hard when he was diagnosed with lymphosarcoma, and the treatment cost $12,000. As a college student, I had to decide whether to go into debt to save his life. He passed away a week later, and I carried him with me when I finished college and started working at Facebook and living in the Bay Area.

When I was volunteering at the SFSPCA with my now co-founder Keji Xu, we overheard pet owner after pet owner lamenting the costs of veterinary care—one woman told us she had spent $8,000 on ACL surgery for her dog. We’ve heard that families have to choose between saving their loved ones, giving them the medical care they need, or getting into crippling debt. It reminded me of my struggle with Simba.

pet spending The US already has nearly $120 billion, and soon $275 billion by the end of the decade. Pets used to be companions, but now we see them as beginner kids. There are 185 million cats and dogs in the United States, and while the pet insurance industry in the United States already exists $2.8 billion market It grows over 30% year over year and has penetrated just over 3% of owners.

Many pet owners are still unaware of how expensive some procedures can be, and traditional pet insurance companies don’t pass on their value until it is too late. Over the course of a few weeks, we had hundreds of conversations with pet parents, vets, insurance companies, and shelters. We’ve cleared up the pain points and built a lot of excitement to contribute to this loving part of so many people’s lives. We realized that we had a great opportunity to build a reliable company that would help pet parents take care of their loved ones.

Since its launch in 2020, Fursure has attracted more than 60,000 pet parents in all 50 states, helping support more than 1,800 checking accounts with the new Fursure Card.

Courtesy of Forsor

It’s hard to tell human health insurance, but pet insurance is an entirely different animal (pardon the word game) due to limitations with pre-existing conditions, not to mention how hard it is to compare plans between different providers. What are some of the biggest weaknesses with pet insurance right now, and how is Fursure a better option than what’s currently on the market?

The whole process sucks for finding the right pet insurance policy. First and foremost, people don’t know what pet insurance covers, and it doesn’t work like human health insurance, so it’s doubly confusing.

Like I said, no policy will cover pre-existing conditions, and moreover, most insurance companies don’t cover routine wellness costs, so preventive care (which makes up the majority of annual veterinary care costs) is separate from accidents, illnesses, and illnesses. Often not covered unless added or purchased separately. Second, people don’t know who the players in the pet insurance market are. they will The Google I search and see names like Trupanion, Pets Best, and Figo and I have no idea who to trust the health and wellness of their loved ones.

Finally, people ultimately want to know what is best for them and their specific pet, and there is a lot of noise in the market.

Our National Pet Insurance Marketplace solves these issues by making pet insurance friendly, with a state-of-the-art purchase that gives pet parents the time, money, and confidence to protect their entire family. With Fursure, there are no hidden fees or surprises when working with one of our pet insurance experts. We are an unbiased, free to use resource that simplifies the process to be as seamless as possible.

We start by explaining what is covered in plain language, what is not covered, what the different terms mean, how providers compare, and what factors are important when purchasing a plan. We then give you personalized recommendations and guidance on the best policy for you and your situation. We make sure you know right from the start how much you’ll pay your provider for your coverage, help you get your policy, and offer a comprehensive solution for managing policies and renewals.

Responsible pet owners do so much for their cats and dogs, and we are all so used to budgeting for food, treats, toys, grooming, and routine trips to the vet for basic checkups and booster vaccinations. However, pet insurance is probably the cost that most pet owners overlook but should consider more. How can Fursure sell these pet owners on pet insurance?

The most important things we think are preventing parents from choosing pet insurance are transparency, trust, and education. Purchasing pet insurance doesn’t have to be expensive, confusing or time consuming, we try to make it easy and fast while showing how important pet insurance is.

Pet Accident and Illness insurance is just like car or home insurance… you wish you’d never needed it, but would be very grateful if you had to. There have been far too many parents who have had to choose between emptying their bank accounts or saying goodbye to their loving pet. Having pet insurance means you can feel confident knowing you’ll never have to make that painful choice.

On the other hand, wellness plans are a bit like health insurance and where you will feel more impacted with this daily value. Wellness plans cover those expenses you would normally see with healthy pets such as vaccinations, heartworm prevention, spay/neuter and even dental cleaning. Not all insurance policies cover these costs, so the best practice is to combine these two services so that you and your pet are protected around all corners. Our Forcher Card is an alternative for those without a health plan because the points you earn can be used for all veterinary care, so you can offset these costs in a smart and easy way.

Not every pet parent needs pet insurance; Given the limitations of pre-existing conditions, for pets with many existing medical conditions, it may not make sense to purchase an expensive plan that does not cover everything one might want to be covered. The same goes for older pets, parents who can pay tens of thousands out of their pocket and can afford to self-insure. But for many people, they can use a hand with pet insurance or a savings account, or a combination of the two to protect against significant unexpected lifetime costs and give peace of mind. More pet parents are getting insurance when they get their pets from a shelter or breeder on their checklist for items.

Forsher card holders can get exclusive discounts on products from pet brands like Bark Box, Chewy, The Farmer’s Dog, and more.

Courtesy of Forsor

How is the company financed? Is it self-financed or have you reached out to investors? How was the financing process?

We booted the company while doing research and interviewing hundreds of pet parents, vets, insurance companies, and shelters, to find out their biggest pain points. We nurtured the Friends and Family Roundup as a pre-seed in March 2020, which happened to be the start of the pandemic with lockdown restrictions in place in the Bay Area and investors running around trying to help their portfolio companies, many of whom were seeing their revenues plummet. In hindsight, it was the worst time in many years to raise for an early stage company, but I’m grateful for the first verifications at Fursure, the people who believed in me working with me at Facebook or seeing me bigger than childhood. Having established a base of clients who loved us and had strong traction early on, we collected a large number of seed acquired in April 2021.

Since then, we have launched the first-of-its-kind rewards debit card to offer supercharged points on pet spending with promising traction and expanded our reach to pet parents; New and existing investors have offered to invest in the additional seed round, which we are now concluding. The market is crazy so raising money wasn’t easy, but the process helped us find exceptional investors who deeply believe in us and the problem we solve which was amazing.

Looking at five years, how would you like the force to grow? What kind of services do you want to add in the future?

We plan to continue iterating on our foundation as the first financial wellbeing platform for parents. We are always talking to our customers, so I know we will continue to build the best solutions for their pain points. We did this with our Forcher Card, after countless conversations where we learned that pet parents wanted to be rewarded for spending on their pets and had an easy solution to a rainy day fund.

Our market is just the tip of the iceberg of what parents everywhere need to feel confident and empowered with pet financing, so we plan to build a solution to this pain point and innovate on their behalf.

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